Nobody is obligated to love or even like their bodies, but I believe that everyone should have the option. We live in a culture that tells us that our bodies are not good enough and never will be. A culture that, as my friend CJ Legare says, works hard to steal our self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to us at a profit. I wrote about this yesterday and mentioned that, while they are selling, we don’t have to buy. Here are some practical steps to improve your relationship with your body.
Within a period of a few months, doing these steps completely changed my relationship with my body. It has been the most positive, impactful thing I’ve ever done for my relationship with my body. It helped me to see my body as amazing and deserving of love, respect, care, and my full-throated support no matter what. That changed everything from how I felt about my body, to how I treated it, to how I talked about it, and how I allowed others to talk about it. As always, your mileage may vary, but I definitely urge you to commit to it and give it some time!
1. Make a list of things that your body does for you, and things that you appreciate about your body (your awesome hair, your beautiful eyes, the curve of your whatever, breating, blinking, waste management, blood flow, thinking, smiling, waving, hugging, walking, rolling/controlling your wheelchair etc.) This should be a pretty long list. I’m serious – make a list, write it down. I’ll wait….
Ok, now that you have a list (you do have a list right? You didn’t just skip ahead):
2. Start to notice the thoughts that you have about your body.
Really pay attention to when you think about your body and what you think about it. When do you blame it, when do you give it credit? When do you thank it for what it does, when do you accuse it of not doing enough? When do you think that it’s beautiful, when do you think that it’s flawed. Don’t judge your thoughts, just notice them.
3. Start replacing negative thoughts with positive ones from the list that you created in step 1.
In my experience this will take some work in the beginning – you’ll have to pay attention to your thoughts and then make a concerted effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. It’s totally ok if you replace negative thoughts about one part of your body with positive thoughts about another. All that’s important is that anytime you think something negative about your body, you interrupt that thought and replace it with gratitude . While you’re at it, start looking for opportunities to proactively appreciate your body. Soon, it will become a habit.
4. Notice the things that you typically don’t like about your body.
5. Think of something (anything!) to like about those things.
For example, you might hate the shape of your ass – but you would have some problems if you didn’t have one at all so hey, thanks body for having an ass where an ass is supposed to be.
6. Replace negative thoughts about parts of your body with positive thoughts about the same parts of your body.
7. If there are things that you don’t like about your body,or things that your body doesn’t do that you wish it did, those feelings are completely valid. One way to deal with this is to acknowledge that the situation sucks, and consider reframing it as you and your body against a problem, rather than you against your body.
Lather, rinse, repeat and start having a healthier, happier relationship with your amazing body!
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